Making space for art: a spatial perspective of disruptive and defensive institutional work in Venezuela’s art world
The physical and material aspects of space, such as geographical distance or boundaries, have social and symbolic consequences that impact how people influence and are influenced by institutions. Social actors can however contest how space is conceived, perceived and lived, thus making space a crucial lever in the disruption and defense of institutions. However, we lack understanding of the spatial aspects of such institutional struggles. In exploring how space is leveraged in institutional work, our study foregrounds the socio-political nature of space, building on and expanding the theorization of Lefebvre. We draw on an in depth longitudinal analysis of the material, social and symbolic aspects of the spatial dimensions of disruptive and defensive institutional work over the past twenty years in Venezuela’s art world. Following the Bolivarian Revolution in the late 1990s, the incoming government transformed the organization of the national cultural landscape, resulting in a prolonged period of institutional disruption and defense. We demonstrate that actors use the material, social, and symbolic dimensions of space to challenge and maintain their key values and practices, and that those three dimensions are intertwined.